World squash tournament will head to Tauranga

New Zealand's world number two Paul Coll is looking forward to the event in Tauranga. Supplied photo.

Tauranga will finally get the chance to welcome the best men's squash players in the world in 2023 when it plays host to the 2023 WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championships.

The 2021 edition was initially slated for Tauranga but was moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and eventually cancelled at the end of November due to Covid-19 concerns. 

The biennial tournament, which sees four-man squads from top squash-playing nations around the world battle it out in best-of-three-match clashes, is provisionally scheduled for late 2023.

New Zealand has not hosted the men’s event since 1983. When the 2021 tournament was initially relocated to Malaysia back in May the local Tauranga organising committee and Squash New Zealand formally expressed their interest in hosting the 2023 version of the event and that request has been favourably received.

Squash New Zealand chief executive Martin Dowson and chair of the organising committee Wayne Werder are both elated that Tauranga and New Zealand will get the chance to host the tournament after all.

“It’s great to have the 2023 WSF Men’s World Team Championship secured for New Zealand,” says Dowson.

“It has been a strange couple of years for all events and Wayne Werder and the team in Tauranga should be commended for their hard work to gain the hosting rights for this prestigious event which will feature all of the top-ranked men’s PSA players.

“We know that in 2023 the venue will be even bigger and better and will do the sport proud.”

Werder, meanwhile, says: 

“It’s great to have the recognition from the WSF to host the 2023 WSF Men’s Team Championship in Tauranga, particularly after not being able to host in 2021. 

“We have the facilities and manpower behind the tournament and look forward to hosting the world’s best right here in New Zealand and to give our very own Paul Coll a chance to participate at home.”

New Zealand’s star squash player Coll, who defeated world number one Ali Farag to win the Black Ball Open in Cairo this week, is also excited at the chance to play in front of home fans. 

“Having the world teams in New Zealand is huge for the sport,” says the world number two. 

“For me to personally play in New Zealand is rare, so having a tournament of this calibre is massive and means a lot to me to play in front of friends, sponsors and family.

“It’s also a big occasion to promote the sport I love and show how good it is to fellow Kiwis. I haven’t lost at a World Teams event at the last two events and I want to keep that record and take the New Zealand team as high as possible with plenty of hometown support.”

Defending champions Egypt will go into the tournament as strong favourites, alongside five-time winners England and two-time runners up France.

Tauranga City Council commission chair Anne Tolley says the city will relish this opportunity. 

“We look forward to welcoming the world’s best squash players to this significant event,” she says.

“Recognising that New Zealand now has top-ranking players, including world number two Paul Coll, gives us a realistic chance of local success and that will be a massive drawcard for squash enthusiasts around the country.

“After the disappointment of having to cancel the 2021 Men’s Team Championship here due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tauranga will relish this opportunity to showcase its attractions to a worldwide audience and we’ll be doing our utmost to ensure that visiting players and spectators have a great stay."

The Kiwi team will be looking to build on a strong showing in 2019, where a team of Paul Coll, Campbell Grayson, Evan Williams and Lwamba Chileshe finished fifth.

“My congratulations to New Zealand and Tauranga, who will no doubt host an incredible tournament,” says World Squash Federation CEO William Louis-Marie.

“New Zealand boasts great facilities, warm hospitality, strong public support, and a real squash pedigree and I am sure that every player will be eagerly awaiting the squad list.”

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